I looked and couldn’t find his email address anywhere. So, since open letters are so in right now…
Dear David Gilmour,
I have just read Mark Medley’s article and I wanted to let you know my impression, based on this very small insight. It seems like you are a nice, well meaning tutor. However, it also seems that you are missing the point about the criticism and do not realise your own prejudices.
As a female writer I am all too aware of these. When I finish my book and go to publishers, I will not use my real name which is obviously female, but my initials, and this would be in the hope that they would read my book thinking it was written by a man. I believe we all negotiate within a framework of a myth of male superiority (in certain spheres, and literature is one of them). I do not exclude myself from this. Rather, I notice that when I read a book that I know is written by a man, I already (involuntarily) have the sense of it being more serious, more intelligent and altogether better. As a committed feminist, I find this sad, though it is something I CAN unravel by confronting logically. I also work in comedy where these prejudices are equally prevalent and equally untrue.
Most of the ‘great’ writers are male. Is this because women are less good at writing? Or is it because women have been/are considered inferior at many things, including thinking and consequently writing? As a female writer, do I only love female writers? No, because most of the ‘greats’ are male. As a female, would I only choose to teach female writers? No, because I do not consider what I have to say or discover about writing to be confined solely to my gender, or even relevant to it. Did these ‘greats’ write about being male or about humanity? Humanity, so why is it that the only sphere female writers are permitted is writing about femaleness? Do you see the sexism inherent in this outdated system? And if not, why have you written a book from a female perspective? I do not want to study within the two categories Literature, and Women’s Literature. They don’t exist. There’s just Literature.
While you may not be aware of it yourself, I think you are sexist against female writers, as most people are, and it might be interesting for you to consider that possibility. It could be highly beneficial for your students too, who you are teaching within this framework, thereby perpetuating the sexism.